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Chapter 1: What is student engagement in learning?

Periodic Review

A comprehensive review of the survey instrument was carried out in 2021. The Survey Review Group considered international good practice, feedback from students, and recommendations from relevant stakeholders in revising the existing questions and considering where additional questions could add value.

Why was the review carried out?
  • It’s important for to review the questions asked every few years to ensure they are still relevant, understandable, and reflective of the experiences of students in their learning.
  • stakeholders felt that the post-COVID-19 context was an important time to consider adding new questions and to consider the experiences of diverse student cohorts.

How was the review carried out?

A range of stakeholders from across Irish higher education provided their ideas and views. The review group looked at a range of possible new topics and questions of interest to students. hosted numerous focus groups with students to test out possible questions and gain their perspectives. The review group published a report on the review, as well as an International Comparators Factsheet on surveys of student engagement practices in other countries.

Some minor changes were made – what are they?
  • no longer refers to “satisfaction” in the objectives, emphasising the importance of the survey as a tool to support greater understanding of student learning experiences.
  • Some small changes were made to some of the questions and four were removed.
  • All students will now be asked if they have ever considered withdrawing from their programme of study.
  • A new indicator, Learning, Creative and Social Skills, was created and will be used from 2022 onwards.

Some bigger changes were also made, including…
  • In 2022, conducted a pilot study to test additional questions on the background of students who respond to the survey.
  • The new questions allowed students to self-identify with various characteristics, including disability, ethnicity, caring responsibilities, gender, socio-economic and socio-cultural status, and sexual orientation. These data are entirely anonymous. The results will be published separately to the National Report 2022.
  • Institutions were also able to ask their students some questions on one of the following topics: Career and Workforce Preparation, Civic Engagement, Experiences with Online Learning, and Inclusiveness and Engagement with Diversity. These were in the form of Topical Modules. Topical Modules will continue to be asked from 2023 onwards, and the development of additional Topical Modules is ongoing.

Find further information about this review, as well as the statistical testing of the reliability and validity of the data HERE.